Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Did he (Mr. Candidate) really just say that? (and the one question you should ALWAYS ask)

What’s the one thing I would need to do, if offered this position, to have an immediate impact on the team?” he asked as we were wrapping up the interview.  How refreshing”, I thought!  This mid level manager candidate nailed it just by asking the question!
Wrapping up my interviews, I always ask if a candidate has any questions for me.  Half of them ask something like “Is this a new position or replacement?”, or “How long has this position been open?”, or “How quickly are you looking to fill this position?”.  All of these are decent questions, but they sound like something most likely found off a quick Google search on “what questions to ask the interviewer”.  Others say something like “Not really…I think you did a great job of explaining things.”  The absolute worst ones are when a candidate takes this opportunity to go straight to “What are the hours?” or “How long until Short Term Disability kicks in?” (YES, I’ve actually had a candidate ask that last one!)
When a hiring manager or recruiter asks if you have any questions, ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING PREPARED TO ASK THEM...NO MATTER WHAT!!  Do you research on the company or department ahead of time if you are able to do so.  If not, ask probing questions.  Great questions include,
·         “How can I make an immediate impact in this department?”
·         “What’s the one thing this team/department/company struggles with that keeps you up at night?”
·         “How will you measure my success in this role?”
·         “What do you think would it look like if someone with more potential than you can imagine (ie. ME) stepped into this role and took the team to the next level…or the level after that?” (MY PERSONAL FAVORITE…IF YOU ARE BOLD ENOUGH, BE PREPARED TO KNOCK THEIR SOCKS OFF WITH THIS ONE)
·         “How do I measure up against other candidates you’ve spoken to?”
·         “What concerns do you have about my background and abilities?”
There are many more great questions to ask, but as you can see the questions that stand out (and get you more REAL information about the situation you may be stepping into, if given the role) are the ones that aren’t about the basic logistics of the recruiting process or the job.  They elicit answers that will paint you a clear picture of what may be your future.  They are discovery focused questions about the situations that lie waiting in the deep, dark cubicle lined offices where you just might be spending the next few years of your life.  Why wouldn’t you want to know the details on WHAT’S GOING ON THERE?  Whatever you learn from the answers will surely help you to:
1)      Decide whether it’s a mission you want to pursue.
2)      Get an idea of what your game plan will need to be if offered the job.
3)      Understand what the manager (or your new boss) sees as areas of opportunity.
4)      Learn what you need to do to make a difference (and make your new boss happy!)
Senior leaders like to hire individuals who they trust can get the job done.  They want people who are problem solvers who “get it” and who care about the business.  They are generally not looking for someone with the limited mindset of “How soon are you looking to fill this job?”  Understand?

I hope you get a chance to try out some of these or your own versions of them on your next interview.  And if you’re looking for work, I hope that interview is just around the corner for you!  Until next time, much continued career success your way!!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent info here. I have occasionally discovered that I do not want the job in the interview process, so unless the job is something I really want, I ask the stupid questions.
    Some new things I have been asked recently in interviews - What were my favorite jobs, what did I like about them, what didn't I like about them. It has been a very long time since I had to interview for a job, perhaps they are not so new, but you really need to be prepared for any question.